Ontario issues stay-at-home order except for essentials

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Will there be a rush to return puppies adopted during COVID?
Author of the article:Jane Stevenson
Publishing date:May 16, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
What is being called “the great doggy dump” by the New York Post, is not happening in Toronto or Ontario — yet.
What is being called “the great doggy dump” by the New York Post, is not happening in Toronto or Ontario — yet. PHOTO BY GREG SOUTHAM /Postmedia
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Will the “great doggy dump” happen in Ontario?

The term was coined by the New York Post, which — along with Bloomberg Qucktale — reported some animal shelters in the U.S. and the U.K. say they’re seeing people who adopted pups at the beginning of the pandemic returning them as lockdown restrictions are eased.


“People can be very selfish,” Penny Smith-Berk, the owner of the Rescue Right animal shelter in Bedford, N.Y., told the Post.

“You can impulsively buy a pair of shoes and never wear it again, but there are consequences for a dog — it’s excruciatingly sad.”

OSPCA spokesperson Melissa Kosowan said with Ontario still in the grips of a third wave of the pandemic and an extension of the stay-at-home order from May 20 to June 2, it’s hard to know what will happen here.

“As Ontario is in a different stage of the pandemic than the United States, I think it’s too early to predict how the return to a more normal way of life will impact our pets,” Kosowan said in a statement. “What I can tell you is that we are seeing an increased interest in adopting and our adoption process is designed to help ensure that the matches that we are making are for life.”

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Hannah Sotropa, a spokesperson with the Toronto Humane Society, said her organization will be ready if there is a flurry of returns when COVID restrictions are removed.

“We have the resources and the appropriate planning in place so we can accommodate if a surge does occur. But with that said, it’s hard to predict the future,” added Sotropa.

Jessica Del Guercio, the founder of Paws of Greenwich in Greewich, Conn., told the New York Post some dog owners are now overwhelmed by the commitment required to having an animal.

“People are like, ‘We’re going to buy all these puppies because we have nothing to do.’ They assume it’s easy, but they haven’t had a dog since their childhood,” said the dog training business operator.

Bloomberg Quicktake found that the same trend is likely across the pond, too.

“I think that’s going to happen as people gradually return to offices, people start thinking about taking holidays as well,” Peter Laurie, chief executive of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London, told Bloomberg Quicktake.
 

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KINSELLA: Informed consent being shredded in Canada by AZ vaccine debacle
Author of the article:Warren Kinsella
Publishing date:May 15, 2021 • 1 day ago • 3 minute read • 105 Comments
Vials of the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
Vials of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. PHOTO BY MOHAMMED ABED /AFP via Getty Images
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I didn’t feel faint. I looked down.

“Your next dose is scheduled,” it said.


That’s what the official Ontario Ministry of Health sheet said. The nice woman at the Shoppers Drug Mart on Lakeshore Blvd. in Toronto handed it to me, and told me to stick around for fifteen minutes in case I felt faint or something.

I stuck around. I looked at the sheet again.

I’d just gotten my first dose of what was described as “AstraZeneca Covid-19 Non-rep VV.” The sheet didn’t say when I’d be getting a second dose of vaccine. But it said I’d be getting my “next dose” of what the nice woman said was AstraZeneca.

That was back in March. Because I’m an old fart now, I was one of the first lucky enough to get AstraZeneca vaccine. After that, more than two million of my fellow citizens got AstraZeneca, too. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was one of them.

This week, Ontario and several provinces pulled the plug on giving Canadians a first or second dose of AstraZeneca. The stated reason is blood clots. You might, might — might — get them.

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Never mind the fact that, in the United Kingdom — in Britain, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to be precise — COVID cases have dropped dramatically. Never mind the fact that, on one day this week they had no COVID deaths whatsoever. And all they have given their people is AstraZeneca.

But never mind all that.

Here in Canada, millions got one dose of AstraZeneca, and were told they’d get a second dose of AstraZeneca.

Right now, they’re being told they won’t get it. Right now, they’re even being told they might get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Is it a good idea to mix vaccines? Will it be effective? Will it have nasty side effects? We don’t know for sure.

What we do know, however, is a hoary old concept called “informed consent.” It’s been around for a while. It’s the law of the land, and has been long accepted as such by the Supreme Court of Canada, no less.

The Merriam-Webster people say informed consent is agreement “by a patient to participation in a medical experiment after achieving an understanding of what is involved.”

You don’t have to be a Supreme Court judge or an epidemiologist to understand the problem we’ve got, now. In this case, it’s more than two million Canadians agreeing to get the second AstraZeneca vaccine, and then being told they may not get it. Or that they may get something else entirely.


Did they consent to that? Did they consent to what the Government of Canada’s own Chief Science Officer called, in slightly different context, a “population-level experiment?”

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Full disclosure: I’ve worked, for years, with some amazing lawyers on class-action lawsuits. Those class actions mostly dealt with governments making bad decisions — decisions that adversely affected the health of citizens. We ultimately won those lawsuits.

You see where this is going, here. The Trudeau government has made a circus of the vaccine rollouts. They tried to get vaccines from China, where two of our citizens are being held contrary to international law. Then, they didn’t get enough vaccines. Then, they got vaccines too late. Then, they told us AstraZeneca was totally safe, and now they’re saying it might not be.

The result? Provincial governments are being forced to roll the dice with the health and well-being of Canadians. And “informed consent” — which is at the very centre of our entire healthcare system — is being shredded. More than two million Canadians gave consent for something to happen, and now it seems something else is happening.

Feeling faint yet?

You should be.

— Kinsella is former Chief of Staff to a federal Liberal Minister of Health.
 

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LEVY: Lockdown madness is just crazy
Author of the article:Sue-Ann Levy
Publishing date:May 16, 2021 • 1 day ago • 3 minute read • 104 Comments
Beach volleyball courts are off limits at Woodbine Beach in Toronto due to the provincial stay-at-home order on Sunday, April 25, 2021.
Beach volleyball courts are off limits at Woodbine Beach in Toronto due to the provincial stay-at-home order on Sunday, April 25, 2021. PHOTO BY VERONICA HENRI /Toronto Sun
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When I heard Dr. Anthony Fauci — the champion of perennial lockdowns — tell Face the Nation Sunday morning that vaccinations protect one from catching or spreading the COVID-19 virus, I realized just how far our own politicians and health officials have gone.

Just a few days ago, the CDC south of the border also announced that masks are no longer required indoors for those who are fully vaccinated.


America is opening up.

But here in Canada, our leaders are still obsessed with surreal draconian lockdowns that have forced small business to stay shut for more than 260 days since the pandemic began 14 months ago and could, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), lead to one in five Ontario businesses going bankrupt.

The rules are selective and punitive — and make no sense.

We are not permitted to enjoy the nice weather on tennis courts or golf courses or even roam our parks. Children are going stir crazy not being able to enjoy our playgrounds or basketball courts.

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(Here I thought fresh air and exercise helped keep up one’s immunity and well-being.)

While concert and other venues are opening south of the border, we’ve seen signature events cancelled in Toronto for the second summer in a row.

Yet, it is quite OK for 5,000 pro-Palestine protesters to pack Nathan Phillips Square — many unmasked and situated very close together — as they did Saturday night. It is quite fine for encampments to thrive in our parks — and the tent dwellers permitted to roam wherever they wish — while ordinary citizens were banned (by fences and crime scene tape) from looking at cherry blossoms at High Park.

I can only imagine how little weary Canadians will listen on Victoria Day weekend if the weather is warm and sunny.


Our politicians talk incessantly about the need to get vaccinated to stop the spread — on TV, on Twitter feeds, in news stories, and during press conferences.

But here I sit writing this column fully vaccinated with Moderna from Palm Beach County, considered a pariah because I had the gall to drive my wife and three dachshunds home from Florida last week.

You’d think our governments would be happy that two fewer people need to draw from the country’s limited supply of vaccine (limited because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau botched up the acquisition so badly, verging on criminally).

Yet, we’ve been punished by the powers-that-be — stuck in 14 days of quarantine during which we are forced to check in daily with a federal app about whether we are feverish (no, I don’t have a fever, I’ve been vaccinated, silly people).

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I have been called twice now and asked to respond to a series of recorded questions asking whether I’ve complied with the federal quarantine rules.

On Tuesday we’ll be forced to take our Day 8 Switch Health test, which will no doubt come back negative as the other two did (including the PCR test we took a week ago in South Carolina and which wasn’t even reviewed at the border).

We’ll go through this 14-day charade — as many others who’ve been vaccinated outside Canada have also done — only because federal government officials are quite happy to suck and blow, telling us to get vaccinated and the world will open up, but not accepting vaccination records from outside the country.

We’ll suffer hateful comments from the indoctrinated who have not travelled about being “self-centred” — as if travellers are the sole source of the dreaded pandemic.

Yet, Switch Health reported to me a few days ago that a mere 1% of travellers tested on Day 1 and on Day 8 at Pearson airport and land borders were COVID-positive.

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Pandemic related signage along Queen St. W. near Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Ont. on Sunday February 28, 2021.
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A closed store front boutique business called Francis Watson pleads for help displaying a sign in Toronto on Thursday, April 16, 2020.
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That’s not 1% a day. That’s 1% from Feb. 22 to May 12.

Perhaps it’s time to tell our disconnected politicians, who seem to be led by the nose by medical officers of health and polling, that enough is enough.

SLevy@postmedia.com
 

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B.1.617 variant growing concern for city, province: de Villa
45 cases of so-called "Indian variant" identified so far in Ontario

Author of the article:Bryan Passifiume
Publishing date:May 17, 2021 • 4 minutes ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Pedestrians pass through Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall.
Pedestrians pass through Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall. PHOTO BY STAN BEHAL /Toronto Sun
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With 45 cases of a worrying new COVID-19 variant identified in Ontario, Toronto’s top doctor warns it may supplant B.1.1.7 as the province’s top variant of concern.

That news came Monday from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, who said it’s possible the variant responsible for India’s devastating second wave could wreak as much havoc in the province as B.1.1.7.


“Last February, as we anticipated the U.K.’s B.1.1.7 variant, I told you that the prospect of exponential growth had me as worried as I had ever been during the pandemic,” she said.

“Regretfully, the last few months have unfolded as so many have feared.”

Earlier on Monday, Premier Doug Ford issued a statement that 45 B.1.617 cases had been confirmed in Ontario, with more than 80% linked to international travel.

“This is deeply troubling, especially in light of the World Health Organization’s recent decision to designate B.1.617 as a variant of global concern,” the Premier said.

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“The fact remains, this new COVID-19 variant, as well as the others, is here because of travel and, as a result of a quarantine system riddled with loopholes, has spread to the community.”

de Villa said she isn’t saying if the variant will have the same effect as B.1.1.7, but said the situation is being monitored.

“We should do all we can to prevent history from repeating itself,” she added.

A Public Health Ontario spokesperson told the TorontoSun 30 of the 45 cases were identified in those entering the country either via Toronto Pearson Airport or land border crossings, and 15 through the province’s genomics surveillance program.

They confirmed that 37 case of B.1.617 were associated with international travel, and the remaining eight are still under investigation.


Canada’s first B.1.617 case was identified in Quebec in mid-April, appearing in BC later that month.

The Toronto Sun was one of the first Canadian media outlets to report on B.1.617, a so-called “double variant” that combines mutations previously found in other variants, making it more virulent and resistant to antibodies from either vaccines or previous infections.

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Nurse Angela Bedard stands in a doorway after helping to intubate a patient suffering from COVID-19 at Humber River Hospital, on April 28, 2021.
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Toronto reported 1,837 new COVID cases over the weekend, averaging about 612 new cases daily.

A total of 1,011 people are in hospital, 271 are in intensive care, and the city recorded 24 new COVID-19 deaths over the weekend.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume
 

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Clock ticking on AstraZeneca expiry as province ponders next move
Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:May 17, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 2 minute read • 5 Comments
This file photo shows a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Paris on March 11, 2021.
This file photo shows a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Paris on March 11, 2021. PHOTO BY AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES /Toronto Sun
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Ontario has yet to decide what to do about second doses for those who got their first shot of AstraZeneca — even as the expiry date looms for some of that vaccine supply.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said she doesn’t want to waste a single dose of vaccine but is still waiting for advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).


“I know that many people are very concerned about it, that they may have received the AstraZeneca shot as their first dose — I did myself — and that they are wondering about what their second dose will be and how they will be notified about it,” Elliott said Monday. “We’re waiting for that information to come in, but we know that the second doses aren’t due for people until the end of June sometime, so there is still time to come to a conclusion on this from our medical experts.

“But for people who may have received their first dose of vaccine from a pop-up clinic or somewhere else, they are in the system, they are in the COVax system … When their turn comes forward for a second dose, they will be notified well in advance of when they will receive their second dose and what that dose will be, what that vaccine will be,” she said.

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Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, ordered a pause in the use of AstraZeneca as a first dose over concerns about the risk of vaccine-induced blood clots.

Ontario will not authorize the use of any vaccine that has expired, including AstraZeneca, he said.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe confirmed 14 cases of blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Ontario, including 10 that meet the criteria for Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT).

“I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that those who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine did absolutely the right thing to prevent illness and to protect their families, loved ones and communities,” Yaffe said.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds a press conference at the Ontario legislature in Toronto, Thursday, May 13, 2021.
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Residents living in Ottawa hot spots Overbrook and Vanier get their vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Howard Darwin Centennial Arena on May 11, 2021.
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Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
Ontario lacks AstraZeneca supply ahead of second-shot eligibility: Elliott

Ontario is looking to other jurisdictions to determine the implications of a second dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer or Moderna.


So far, the experience in the United Kingdom shows a “much, much, much lower” risk of blood clots with a second dose of AstraZeneca, Elliott said.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

spaminator

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Protester allegedly sunk teeth into Toronto cop
Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:May 18, 2021 • 18 hours ago • 1 minute read • 22 Comments
An rally against lockdowns is organized by Maxime Bernier and held at Queen's Park onSaturday May 15, 2021.
An rally against lockdowns is organized by Maxime Bernier and held at Queen's Park onSaturday May 15, 2021. PHOTO BY VERONICA HENRI, TORONTO SUN /Toronto Sun
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An anti-lockdown protester has been accused of biting a Toronto Police officer during a demonstration last weekend.

Tarik Khaled Elzaabalawi, 24, of Mississauga, is charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer and mischief under $5,000 for his alleged behaviour Saturday at a large Queen’s Park gathering of anti-maskers and anti-lockdown protestors.


Police estimated the crowd at Queen’s Park that day at about 5,000 people.

The so-called Freedom Rally held Saturday is one name for the weekly gathering of people who feel the need to protest face masks, distancing rules, current stay-at-home orders and other measures viewed as curtailing their freedom.

Police were also on hand for crowd control the same night when an estimated 5,000 gathered at Nathan Phillips Square in response to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“Police are continuing to investigate this event and have been clear that organizers and attendees of events are subject to enforcement and that charges can be laid in the days following events.”

Thus far, assault charges have been laid against Hamza Alkiswany, 22, of Thornhill; Connor Campbell, 29, of Toronto, has been charged with bringing a weapon to a public meeting.

Police are investigating another assault on a man that was captured on video and posted to social media.

Officers urge anyone with information to call 416-808-5200 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477.

 

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LILLEY: Government messaging is contradictory and frustrating
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Publishing date:May 18, 2021 • 13 hours ago • 3 minute read • 23 Comments
Cyclists make their way along a closed-off Lake Shore Blvd. E. (eastbound lanes only), between Leslie Street and Woodbine Ave. as a part of ActiveTO on May 1, 2021.
Cyclists make their way along a closed-off Lake Shore Blvd. E. (eastbound lanes only), between Leslie Street and Woodbine Ave. as a part of ActiveTO on May 1, 2021. PHOTO BY ERNEST DOROSZUK /Toronto Sun
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Are we under a stay-at-home order in Ontario? Should we be outside?

Are things about to change or do we need to wait before we lift any restrictions?


The answer to those questions depends on who you are listening to and when. But don’t worry, if you don’t like the answer, it may change.

The province has been under a stay-at-home order since April 7, but you’d hardly know it on any day with nice weather.

People are on the move as soon as the sun is out, and I can hardly blame them after a winter of being kept inside under lockdown.

Now, strange as it sounds, the City of Toronto has been encouraging residents to get outside and has launched ActiveTO again. It’s a project that shuts down major streets to car traffic so that people can go running, rollerblading or cycling in areas that are becoming increasingly crowded.

Don’t be confused, though. Mayor John Tory and medical officer Dr. Eileen de Villa tell us this is safe.

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Yes, huffing and puffing down a street with strangers, letting out big breaths with plenty of droplets is fine, but sitting quietly on a patio having a drink and meal far apart from others is not safe.

Tory and de Villa have been at the forefront of calling for everything and anything to be locked down, not just in Toronto but across the whole province. They have opposed regional measures and called for province-wide shutdowns because Toronto was a mess, but now, they think ActiveTO is safe while inactive patios are not.

I have the same frustration with the science table. After months of telling us we needed Melbourne-style lockdowns and telling provincial leaders they needed to do anything they could to reduce mobility data, many members are now advocating allowing golf.

I’m not sure how you reduce mobility data while also allowing golf, and tennis and other sports that the mucky-mucks on the science table enjoy, but maybe I’m not enough of an expert. If it’s not the activity but the mobility, the chance for spread — that’s the argument they used to close restaurant patios and more — but suddenly it doesn’t apply to golf.

I get that golf is likely safe. In fact, there are lots of activities that are safe but banned. Yet it took golf for other members of the media to finally start asking for evidence. I’ve been asking for evidence since they started to talk about closing things again last summer.

At that time, and for most of the pandemic, my media colleagues have been asking not for evidence but why the Ford government was not imposing more restrictions, closing more businesses. To hell with evidence seemed to be the mood, and then golf came along, and they wanted evidence.

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The Ford government may be listening and says now outdoor activities could be reopened before the stay-at-home order is set to be lifted on June 3. Could that mean golf, or tennis, before then?


Possibly, but not if the federal government gets in the way.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau restated his government’s position that local health restrictions should stay in place until 75% of the population has at least one vaccine shot and 20% have both.

That won’t happen before June 3 in Ontario so if we follow the federal rules, then we could have to wait a bit longer.

So, are we going to reopen? Are things about to change?

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Nurse Angela Bedard stands in a doorway after helping to intubate a patient suffering from COVID-19 at Humber River Hospital, on April 28, 2021.
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International arrivals at Toronto's Pearson airport.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and Premier Doug Ford
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After listening to all levels of government, I really couldn’t tell you but then again, neither could they, just looked at their contradictory messages.

It’s enough to drive someone to drink. Just not on a patio. That’s still banned.
 

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Rapid COVID-19 test available for purchase in Ontario
Asymptomatic testing available at Shoppers Drug Mart

Author of the article:postmedia News
Publishing date:May 17, 2021 • 1 day ago • 1 minute read • Join the conversation
Shoppers Drug Mart at St. Clair Ave. E. and O'Connor Dr. In East York.
Shoppers Drug Mart at St. Clair Ave. E. and O'Connor Dr. In East York. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Jack Boland/Toronto Sun
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Ontarians who are asymptomatic can now pay for a rapid COVID-19 test.

Shoppers Drug Mart said on Monday customers who are not exhibiting symptoms and who haven’t been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 can purchase a test for $40.


The rapid tests now available at Shoppers outlets differ from the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test offered by the province, which can take up to 48 hours to process. The rapid test can be processed immediately and results can be provided within 15 to 20 minutes.

The rapid test can detect COVID-19 infection by detecting the presence of antigens or specific proteins on a virus’ surface, Shoppers Drug Mart said.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds a press conference at the Ontario legislature in Toronto, Thursday, May 13, 2021.
Ontario COVID-19 vaccine age eligibility to drop to 18 on Tuesday
An example of COVID-19 Rapid Test Device kits.
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Preliminary positive screening for COVID-19 would require a follow-up test at a provincially operated COVID-19 assessment centre to confirm the diagnosis.


Rapid testing is also being made available in Alberta.
 

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LTC families demand answers from Ford government
Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:May 18, 2021 • 16 hours ago • 1 minute read • Join the conversation
A hearse leaves Pinecrest Nursing Home after numerous residents died and dozens of staff were infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada March 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Carlos Osorio)
A hearse leaves Pinecrest Nursing Home after numerous residents died and dozens of staff were infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada March 31, 2020. (REUTERS/Carlos Osorio)
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Families and supporters of nursing home residents “virtually” packed the Ontario legislature Tuesday to demand higher standards of care and accountability after the loss of almost 4,000 residents during the pandemic.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said her party had dedicated its time during question period to asking questions of the Doug Ford government that these people would if they had the opportunity.


Horwath quoted “Pamela,” who lost two parents to the outbreak at the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon: “My elderly mother felt compelled to volunteer her time daily so my dad had the care he needed (as a resident) … After losing both of them, the premier passed a bill that has made it significantly difficult for us to seek compensation from these multi-million dollar corporations.”

NDP MPP Jennifer French raised the case of a man in Oshawa who lost his mother to the second wave of COVID-19 in November, and believed the virus was brought into the nursing home by a staff member working in multiple settings.

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Government House Leader Paul Calandra said it was known well in advance of the pandemic that significant issues existed in long-term care (LTC).

“We needed renovations in some of the older homes including that one in Bobcaygeon,” he said. “We put thousands — millions — of dollars, frankly, hundreds of millions of dollars into doing that in advance of the pandemic.”

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Members of the Canadian Armed Forces were called in to help at Pickering's Orchard Villa long-term care home on May 6, 2020.
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Some 99% of long-term care (LTC) and retirement home residents have been vaccinated with both doses, and yet they're still locked into facilities -- not free to even venture outdoors with the nice weather.
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A body is removed from the Eatonville Care Centre long-term facility on The East Mall in Toronto on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.
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Calandra said the government is building new LTC spaces, hiring 27,000 additional personal support workers, and bringing in 2,000 more nurses.

“We are getting the job done, a job that should have started 15 years ago,” he said.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

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Covid Surges In 4 Of 5 Most Vaccinated Countries—Here’s Why The U.S. Should Worry​

Countries with the world’s highest vaccination rates—including four of the top five most vaccinated—are fighting to contain coronavirus outbreaks that are, on a per-capita basis, higher than the surge devastating India, a trend that has experts questioning the efficacy of some vaccines (especially China’s Sinopharm) and the wisdom of easing restrictions even with most of the population vaccinated.

Go figure Eh?
:unsure:
 

spaminator

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T.O. restaurant workers get help from one-of-a-kind plate auction
Plates commemorate Toronto restaurants that didn't survive COVID shutdowns

Author of the article:Jane Stevenson
Publishing date:May 19, 2021 • 17 hours ago • 1 minute read • Join the conversation
tennesseetavern
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The Toronto Restaurant Workers Relief Fund (TRWRF) is getting dishy — literally.

The Last Dish Initiative, which sees local designers design one-of-a-kind collectible plates from T.O. restaurants that have shuttered their doors due to the pandemic, is auctioning off the plates at lastdish.ca from May 17-31 with proceeds going to the TRWRF.


Each plate finds an artist drawing something that commemorates the restaurant’s signature dish.


For example, the Tennessee Tavern plate, designed by Dave Murray, features the Cevapi (grilled southeastern European sausages.)

The fund says in a statement that “hundreds of Toronto restaurants have had to close their doors, impacting thousands of restaurant workers across the city.”

The fund provides not only grocery assistance via gift cards but mental healthcare by paying for therapy for impacted Toronto restaurant workers.

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“Since March, TWRWF have sent out almost $150,000 in gift cards to restaurant workers in the GTA,” said Arianne Persaud, founder of TWRW, in a statement.

“As the pandemic progresses, the number of people applying for support continues to climb. We have been so thankful for the support to date, but we’re done yet. With ongoing lockdowns, we are at a critical point and the Last Dish initiative will help us raise the funds necessary to continue to help restaurant workers continue to thrive.”

Among the closed Toronto restaurants participating in the plates auction are Vesuvio, Southern Accent, Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill, Frankie Tomatto’s, The Westerly, White Brick Kitchen, Montecito, Moo Frites, and The Walton.
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Prominent anti-masker accused of running down, fleeing Toronto cops
Toronto police accuse Chris Saccoccia — also known as Chris Sky — of attempting to run down officers sent to arrest him at his King City home

Author of the article:Bryan Passifiume
Publishing date:May 20, 2021 • 17 hours ago • 2 minute read • 19 Comments
Anti-mask activist Chris Saccoccia, right, speaks to protesters at an anti-mask rally in Toronto on Saturday October 31, 2020.
Anti-mask activist Chris Saccoccia, right, speaks to protesters at an anti-mask rally in Toronto on Saturday October 31, 2020. PHOTO BY FRANK GUNN /The Canadian Press
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What began as an investigation into death threats made against elected officials ended with a prominent anti-mask gadfly accused of nearly running over officers in his attempt to flee police.

Chris Saccoccia, 37, also known as Chris Sky, faces numerous criminal charges in connection with the incident outside his King City home and made his first court appearance Thursday.


Toronto Police allege that Saccoccia, who founded a number of anti-mask and anti-lockdown organizations, made phone calls on May 12 where he threatened to shoot members of the public and elected officials.

On Wednesday, police say they attended a home in York Region intending to arrest Saccoccia in connection with the charges.

Upon spotting officers, police allege Saccoccia made a run for his vehicle and attempted to flee, prompting officers to use their cruisers in an attempt to block him in.

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Chris Sky (Saccoccia), 37, from King City, is shown at a speaking engagement.
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Police allege Saccoccia then reversed and steered his vehicle directly at one of the officers, forcing him to leap out of the way to avoid being struck.

Saccoccia was allegedly last seen speeding away from police.

Saccoccia turned himself in to police at 53 Division Thursday morning.

He faces three counts of uttering death threats, assault police officer with a weapon, and dangerous operation of a vehicle.

He appeared for a bail hearing at College Park court Thursday morning.

This isn’t the first time Saccoccia has allegedly fled from arresting officers.


In March, Saccoccia allegedly hid in his car from York Regional Police officers sent to arrest him for what he claims was attending an area supermarket without a mask.

Streaming the encounter live on his now-banned Instagram account, he hurled verbal insults at the officers during the standoff, who eventually gave up and left.

Last year, Saccoccia and his wife were charged with violating the federal quarantine act after attending GTA anti-lockdown rallies only days after arriving home from an overseas flight.

He’s also been declared persona non grata by Canada’s airlines, a fact he found out last month after he was denied boarding of a Flair Airlines flight at Toronto Pearson Airport.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume
 

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TTC bus driver assaulted, union seeks action
The operator was rushed to hospital Monday in serious condition after being beaten by an irate passenger in Scarborough

Author of the article:Bryan Passifiume
Publishing date:May 20, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 2 minute read • 16 Comments
A bus sits empty at the TTC Comstock garage on Monday March 23, 2020.
A bus sits empty at the TTC Comstock garage on Monday March 23, 2020. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Toronto Sun
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The president of the city’s transit union is calling for action after another one of their members was assaulted on the job.

This comes exactly two weeks after a bus driver was beat up after demanding one of her passengers wear a face mask while riding on her bus.


Just after 9 p.m. on Monday, a verbal altercation broke out between a bus driver and a group of passengers in Malvern, near Breckon Gate and Sheppard Ave. E., just west of Morningside.

Toronto Police Const. Caroline de Kloet told the Sun the passengers initially obeyed orders to leave the bus, but at least one of the group returned and beat the driver on his head and body with an unknown object.

Seriously injured in the attack, the driver was rushed to hospital where he continues to recover.

Police say they’ve spoken to witnesses and the victim, and are currently reviewing bus surveillance video.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green called the assault “awful” and “reprehensible,’ and said they’ve made all resources available to help in his recovery.

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“Attacks like this are treated with the gravity they deserve, and we are sharing all available information and video evidence with police to assist in their investigation,” he said.


ATU Local 113 president Carlos Santos said enough is enough, and more needs to be done to protect front-line TTC employees while on the job.

“We have yet to hear a comment from TTC management or the City of Toronto on how they will improve safety,” he said.

“TTC workers need to know what decision makers — including TTC CEO Rick Leary and Mayor John Tory — are doing to protect them from a rising number of assaults on the job.”

The pandemic has seen a worrying rise in assaults by the public against TTC workers.

According to the ATU, 86 operators were assaulted on the job during the first four months of 2021, 13 more than the last quarter of 2020.

Police are still appealing for witnesses, and ask anybody with information to call TPS or Crime Stoppers.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume
 

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Three vaccinated LTC residents in Ottawa die after contracting COVID-19 variant
The highly transmissible COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa was detected in all three residents, a spokesperson said.

Author of the article:Elizabeth Payne
Publishing date:May 20, 2021 • 1 day ago • 3 minute read • 9 Comments
Extendicare Medex
Extendicare Medex PHOTO BY JULIE OLIVER /Ottawa Citizen
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Three fully vaccinated residents of an Ottawa long-term care home have died of COVID-19 in recent weeks, the company that operates the long-term care home has confirmed.

“We are saddened to confirm that three residents at Extendicare Medex recently passed away,” said Extendicare spokesperson Laura Gallant.


The three residents of the long-term care home, which is located in Nepean, were all vaccinated in January and had received two doses, Gallant said.

Gallant said the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa was detected in all three residents.

“We have been in close contact with each resident’s family to offer our support and share in their grief,” said Gallant. No other details about the residents were released.

The deaths were part of an outbreak at the home that included nine residents and nine staff members. The outbreak began on April 11 and was declared over by Ottawa Public Health as of May 14, said Gallant. There are no other outbreaks at Extendicare homes in the province.

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Since the COVID-19 vaccination rollout began, deaths in long-term care homes have plummeted dramatically. The vast majority of long-term care residents across the province have received two doses.

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Files: The Rainbow Bridge border crossing between Canada and the United States in Niagara Falls on March 19, 2020.
U.S. border agency says COVID vax not essential; Canadians could be denied entry

Research done by Public Health Ontario between Dec. 14, 2020, and April 17, 2021, found no so-called “breakthrough” deaths among people who had been fully vaccinated in Ontario. Breakthrough refers to infections after complete vaccination.

Of the almost 3.5 million vaccinated individuals, only 0.06 per cent (2,223 individuals) became infected when they were partially vaccinated or fully vaccinated, Public Health Ontario found. Most of them were not fully protected when they acquired their infection.

In a statement, Ottawa Public Health noted that no vaccine provides 100 per cent efficacy against COVID-19 and said people need to continue to follow public health guidelines “until the viral circulation in the population is reduced by a considerable amount.”

Since mass vaccination of long-term care residents was complete earlier this year, there have been few large and fewer deadly outbreaks in homes across the province, in stark contrast to the first and second waves of the pandemic during which nearly 4,000 long-term care residents died.

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Two residents of Sarsfield Colonial Home died of COVID-19 between February and March, according to OPH data. It is not known whether they were fully or partially vaccinated. There have been no other long-term care deaths recorded by OPH since winter.

“Vaccination has reduced the rate of COVID infection in older adults in long-term care and retirement homes significantly and will help keep individuals from getting seriously ill if they contract COVID-19. This includes reducing the rates of hospitalizations and deaths among people who are greatest risk of these outcomes,” OPH said in a statement.

Real world research from Israel suggests the variant first identified in South Africa may be more successful at breaking through the protection provided by Pfizer vaccines, although all existing vaccines are generally effective at stopping severe illness.

Like other variants of concern, including B117 first identified in the U.K. and now dominant in Ontario, B1351, first identified in South Africa, is more transmissible than the original variant of COVID-19.

Gallant of Extendicare said the company is working to prevent any more outbreaks.

“We continue to be vigilant by testing all staff and visitors to our homes with rapid, on-site testing. We will continue to do so until the threat of variant strains has passed.”

OPH works with facilities experiencing outbreaks “and supports them with the implementation of appropriate infection prevention and control measures to reduce the severity and duration of the outbreak until it can be declared over”. These measures may include isolation for those testing positive and high-risk contacts, increased cleaning and sanitation protocols, and educational reminders about effective mask use, hand hygiene and personal protective equipment, OPH said.
 

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LILLEY: Trudeau blocks Canadians from getting American vaccine shots
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Publishing date:May 20, 2021 • 17 hours ago • 3 minute read • 151 Comments
A motorist enters Windsor, Ont. via the Windsor/Detroit tunnel on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
A motorist enters Windsor, Ont. via the Windsor/Detroit tunnel on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. PHOTO BY DAN JANISSE /THE WINDSOR STAR
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Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens is frustrated — the man heading up one of Canada’s most famous border towns could be getting many more of his citizens vaccinated if the federal government would get out of the way.

If you haven’t heard, the claim that Canadians could slip across the border for a COVID-19 vaccine shot isn’t quite true.


After the claim was made earlier this week that Canadians could cross the border for a shot, both the U.S. border service and the Public Health Agency of Canada have said that’s not the case.

“They’ve created a mess,” a flustered Dilkens tells me over the phone Thursday.

The mess started after he started getting calls from Windsor residents who work in Detroit and were seeing the vaccine rollout in Michigan start to peter out.

One pharmacist said they were offering shots at the front of their big box store and couldn’t give them away, so they had to throw them away. Another worked at the mass vaccination clinic at Ford Field where they would only hit a third of their daily capacity.

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Dr. David Williams (right), Ontario's chief medical officer of health, and Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table arrive to deliver updated projections at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday, April 16, 2021.
Ontario's pandemic control improving: New COVID-19 modelling
Ontario Premier Doug Ford reacts to a question during a press conference at the legislature in Toronto, Thursday, May 13, 2021.
Premier Doug Ford announces Ontario's 'slow, measured' reopening plan
Cyclists make their way along a closed-off Lake Shore Blvd. E. (eastbound lanes only), between Leslie Street and Woodbine Ave. as a part of ActiveTO on May 1, 2021.
LILLEY: Government messaging is contradictory and frustrating

Dilkens and local health officials, like David Musyj, the CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, have been trying to find a way to get those vaccines into the arms of local residents. It was their advocacy with the federal government that saw the announcement on Tuesday that Canadians could cross the border.

In an email from the Public Health Agency of Canada, in response to his request for clarity, Musyj was told that yes, border crossing for a vaccine shot could happen but under some conditions. The Canadian citizen would need a doctor’s recommendation for a vaccine, they would need proof of an appointment at an American facility, and they would need to go straight there and come straight back – no shopping or dining allowed.

That has now been contradicted by the Public Health Agency which says Canadians going to the United States need to quarantine for two weeks upon return. The U.S. border service says crossing for a vaccine is not essential.

“I’ve got a pathway to a fully vaccinated summer,” Dilkens said, playing off Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s one-dose summer comment.

Well, Dilkens could arrange a fully-vaccinated summer but the feds won’t allow it.

The Mayor can stand on his own city’s waterfront and look just a few hundred metres across the Detroit River at places where Windsorites could be vaccinated if only the federal government would allow it.

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“The owner of the Ambassador Bridge called and offered the use of his plaza near the duty-free shop to run a vaccination clinic so that they haven’t entered the United States and the federal government is saying no,” Dilkens said, sounding exasperated. “We have the ability to do it and our own federal government is stymying the ability to do it.”


Instead, thanks to the mixed messaging, at least nine Windsor residents are now in a forced quarantine because they listened to the initial advice from PHAC, tried to cross and were turned back.

Local health officials have also requested emergency authority to import 75,000 doses that Michigan has available but will not use. So far, said Dilkens, the feds have been silent.

“The response time is 24 hours normally, it’s now been about 10 days and there is no response,” Dilkens said.

We’ve seen lineups overnight in Alberta for Canadians to drive 100 metres into Montana, get vaccinated and go home. We’ve seen truckers and teachers from Manitoba vaccinated in North Dakota.

But letting people from Ontario get vaccinated in Michigan or New York State is apparently too much for the Trudeau Liberals.

Meanwhile, as Americans have more doses than they can use, Canadians wait for a second shot and the Trudeau Liberals applaud themselves for the great job they are doing.

This is what a one-dose summer looks like.

blilley@postmedia.com
 

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'ALARMING': Porcupine Health Unit reports second highest rate of infection in Ontario
Author of the article:postmedia News
Postmedia News
Ron Grech
Publishing date:May 21, 2021 • 23 hours ago • 2 minute read • 7 Comments
Porcupine Health Unit on Pine Street South in Timmins.
Porcupine Health Unit on Pine Street South in Timmins. Postmedia files
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The Porcupine Health Unit area had its worst day for new infections, reporting 50 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday – a single-day record for the area.

“At this point in time, we are second only to Peel Region in our rates of cases per 100,000 and that is absolutely alarming,” said Dr. Lianne Catton, PHU’s medical officer of health.


“I know a lot of people have not appreciated me using that word (alarming), but there is really no other word that is appropriate at this point in time. There really isn’t.”

Chantal Riopel, PHU’s chief nursing officer, told Postmedia there may be many factors that have contributed to the surge in cases in recent weeks.

“The variants of concern have certainly contributed significantly to the increase in cases and outbreaks,” said Riopelle. “The B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom has been linked to more than 65 per cent of our cases during the third wave.

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“Variants are more infectious and spread more quickly and easily, making close contact and not wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) — or not wearing it properly — more risky than it was in previous waves.

“It’s also important to note that individuals are infectious two days before the start of symptoms and may spread the virus to others without knowing it. The risk of infection increases significantly when the measures are not being followed consistently or correctly.

“Close contact of a confirmed case is how most of the individuals who have COVID-19 have been exposed,” she explained. “Household members and co-workers are now more likely to become infected with COVID-19 than in earlier waves. We are also seeing individuals with mild symptoms who are going out because they don’t think it’s COVID-19 and have spread it to others.”

Kate Fyfe, president and chief executive officer with Timmins and District Hospital, reported as of that afternoon, there were eight patients being treated for COVID-19 at TADH. None of them were in intensive care.

Timmins Mayor George Pirie said vaccinations are the key to getting this region out of lockdown and urged residents to take advantage of the series of clinics being held this weekend.
 

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LILLEY: Trudeau should drop politics and take cross-border vaccines
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Publishing date:May 21, 2021 • 18 hours ago • 3 minute read • 156 Comments
A healthcare worker prepares to administer a Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Ontario on Dec. 14, 2020.
A healthcare worker prepares to administer a Pfizer/BioNTEch coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Ontario on Dec. 14, 2020. PHOTO BY CARLOS OSORIO /POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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It was the most ridiculous line in the response from the media team at the Public Health Agency of Canada and they wrote it without irony.

“Note that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Canada,” the email from the media team said.


That nugget was part of their response to questions I had about confusion on whether Canadians could cross the border to get a COVID shot. Earlier in the week the answer appeared to be yes, it could happen without quarantine, then it changed to no, it couldn’t happen and if someone did go, they would have to quarantine.

More on the confusion in a moment, but let’s be clear, if vaccines were not in short supply in this country, then there wouldn’t be so many Canadians trying to cross the border for a shot. We wouldn’t have a lineup at the Alberta-Montana border, Manitoba wouldn’t have signed a deal with North Dakota to vaccinate essential workers and Ontario wouldn’t have asked Michigan for a similar deal.

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If we had the abundant supply that the folks at PHAC and their Liberal political masters like to claim, then we wouldn’t have extended the interval between doses to up to four months. We also wouldn’t still be rationing who can get a dose based on age, occupation or postal code.

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Coronavirus Covid-19 Protection and Vaccine.
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Canadians from coast to coast are interested in crossing the border to get their first shot, or in some cases second, so that we can start getting back to a normal life sooner rather than later. While the Las Vegas Gold Knights host 7,500 fans for playoff games, the Leafs and Habs are playing in an empty arena in Toronto.

Why the difference?

It’s not just political choices but also issues like a hospital and ICU capacity that is greater than ours but mostly, it’s the effect of vaccines. While some Canadians might be crowing this week about our national numbers passing the United States for vaccines, that’s only people with first doses. On second doses, the United States is around 45% of the eligible population having both doses while we are at about 3.5%.

Vaccines make a difference, and they save lives, something we’ve seen in plummeting death rates and hospitalizations in the U.S., the U.K. and Israel — all countries far ahead of Canada on vaccinating their population.

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The federal government’s position should be that crossing the U.S. border to get vaccinated is just as important as crossing the border for life-saving surgery — something that is allowed. Yet in explaining why Canadians are not allowed to cross the border to get a vaccine shot, PHAC said vaccines are not life-saving.


“This provision is in place to allow Canadians who are seeking life-saving medical treatment outside of Canada,” PHAC’s statement reads.

That’s going to be news to an awful lot of Canadians.

The other day I spoke to Mayor Drew Dilkens of Windsor, Ont., who has been trying to get permission for his residents to cross the border to take advantage of surplus shots in Michigan. He’s offered to run city buses under the watchful eye of Canada Border Services guards to ensure people get a shot and come straight home. He’s had offers to use the no-man’s land on the bridge so people don’t have to enter the U.S. He’s asked for emergency approval to bring in 75,000 surplus doses.

All these requests and more have been rejected or ignored.

The sad reality is that the Trudeau Liberals would rather Canadians wait within our own system than take the help available stateside. Taking the help would be an admission that Trudeau’s plan isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, something he can’t afford with election talk hanging in the air.

Sadly, electoral politics has become vaccine politics and the safety of Canadians comes second to winning votes.

blilley@postmedia.com
 
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Ontario man dies of blood clot after AZ, link still unclear, says health official
Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:May 26, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 2 minute read • 73 Comments
This file photo shows a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Paris on March 11, 2021.
This file photo shows a vial of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Paris on March 11, 2021. PHOTO BY AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES /Toronto Sun
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An Ontario man in his 40s has died after receiving a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, public health officials confirmed Tuesday.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said that while the death is still being investigated, the man did have the blood-clotting disorder known as Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT).


The man was given an AstraZeneca shot towards the end of April and died a few weeks later, Yaffe said.

“While the investigation is ongoing and a final cause of death has yet to be officially determined, it has been confirmed that the individual did have VITT at the time of his death,” Yaffe said Tuesday. “The risks associated with this vaccine are, but they are real.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams halted the use of AstraZeneca as a first dose on May 11, noting a higher rate of blood clots than expected.

In Ontario, roughly one in 60,000 first doses led to blood clots and the risk is considered much lower for a second dose.

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“In the wake of this tragic death, I know that many individuals that received the AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose may be feeling uneasy or concerned about their own health and safety,” Yaffe said. “I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that those who received AstraZeneca vaccine should feel very confident in their decision.”

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has provided guidance on the rare side effect of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine.


“If you experience the following symptoms that start between four and 28 days after vaccination, it might indicate that you have VITT: a severe headache that does not go away; a seizure; difficulty moving part of your body; new blurry vision or double vision that does not go away; difficulty speaking; shortness of breath; severe chest, back, or abdominal pain; unusual bleeding or bruising; new reddish or purplish spots, or blood blisters; or new severe swelling, pain, or colour change of an arm or a leg,” the science table says. “These symptoms can also be a sign of other serious conditions and should be assessed in an emergency department.”

Anyone who experiences unusual or severe symptoms after any COVID-19 vaccine should speak to a health care professional, the science table advises.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

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Thousands of Ontario AstraZeneca doses at risk of waste due to storage issue
Province reports 1,135 new COVID-19 case, 19 deaths

Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:May 27, 2021 • 9 hours ago • 2 minute read • 41 Comments
A vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses at a facility in Milton, Ont. on March 3, 2021.
A vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses at a facility in Milton, Ont. on March 3, 2021. PHOTO BY CARLOS OSORIO /Reuters
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Thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were at risk of being wasted due to problems with storage data.

About 17,000 of the impacted doses passed quality control scrutiny and either had been or will be shipped out to pharmacies by Friday, but another 13,000 doses were still being reviewed by Thursday.


The setback comes as the province tries to put about 55,000 shots of AstraZeneca into people’s arms before the vaccine doses expire at the end of May.


Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of Ontario’s outbreak response, said the province is making every effort to get the remaining doses of AstraZeneca to pharmacies before that deadline.

“We will be providing it to pharmacies to be able to effectively deliver it within the time frame,” Huyer said.

“That’s our goal, that’s our hope. I’m hoping that we won’t have any vaccine that gets to the expiry date.”

Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott, said the province has distributed about 26,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses to participating pharmacies and primary care providers in Kingston, Windsor and Toronto.

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“Out of an abundance of caution, due to incomplete temperature storage data for doses previously in possession of select primary care, pharmacy and (public health unit) settings, Andlauer Healthcare Group (AHG) is undertaking a quality assurance process to ensure maximum safety and efficacy of every single dose,” Hilkene said in a statement Thursday. “This is standard procedure and no dose will be sent that isn’t deemed to be safe.”


People who received an AstraZeneca dose between March 10 to 19 are being offered the opportunity for a second dose.

The province currently does not have enough supply of AstraZeneca to provide everyone who received it with a second shot and is exploring the option of mixing vaccines.

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It has also halted first doses of AstraZeneca over rare incidences of blood clots.

Huyer said the province will provide a vaccine rollout update Friday, hinting that will include more information on how a second dose will be offered to all eligible Ontarians.

The province administered 143,748 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday for a total of just over 8.53 million doses.

About 595,000 Ontarians have been fully vaccinated with two doses.

Ontario reported 1,135 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 19 additional deaths.

Of the new cases, 316 are in Toronto, 271 in Peel, 75 in York, 66 in Hamilton, 47 in Simcoe Muskoka, 46 in Halton, 44 in Waterloo, 37 in Ottawa, 35 in Middlesex-London, 25 in Durham and 22 in Niagara.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the COVID-19 trends are generally positive, but he did not support an earlier start to the reopening plan, now scheduled for the week of June 14.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

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Smiths Falls couple, vaccinated in U.S., say they've been 'harassed' by health officials
“You don’t mind doing something if it’s reasonable or makes sense. But this doesn’t seem reasonable: It’s overkill.”

Author of the article:Andrew Duffy
Publishing date:May 29, 2021 • 2 days ago • 3 minute read • 8 Comments
Jackie Larouche Hartwick and Terry Hartwick of Smiths Falls were fully vaccinated in Florida in January and February.
Jackie Larouche Hartwick and Terry Hartwick of Smiths Falls were fully vaccinated in Florida in January and February. PHOTO BY TONY CALDWELL /Postmedia
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A Smiths Falls couple say they’ve been “harassed” by Health Canada officials while quarantining in their home after returning fully vaccinated from Florida.

Terry Hartwick and his wife, Jackie, both retired civil servants, say Health Canada enforcement officers twice showed up at their doorstep during the past two weeks, demanding entry to their home.


That was in addition, Hartwick said, to daily emails and phone calls from federal officials to ensure they were complying with the government’s mandatory quarantine policy for returning Canadians.

“My wife and I are upset, confused and angered by this constant harassment,” Hartwick wrote in a letter to his Member of Parliament, Conservative Michael Barrett.

In an interview, Hartwick said he couldn’t understand why the government was pouring so much effort into testing and monitoring the health of people who were fully vaccinated. “It’s insane, the money they’re spending on this,” he said.

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In order to return from Florida, Hartwick and his wife had to produce negative COVID test results within 72 hours of reaching the Canadian border, then have another test after they crossed the border and a third test during the middle of their 14-day quarantine period.

Hartwick said he refused to let the quarantine enforcement officers into his house, leading the second one to take photos of him and his home.

“You don’t mind doing something if it’s reasonable or makes sense,” he said. “But this doesn’t seem reasonable: It’s overkill.”

The Hartwicks were visited at 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning by an OPP officer, who said he was acting on a Health Canada request to do a “quarantine enforcement visit.” Their quarantine ended five days ago.
The Hartwicks were visited at 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning by an OPP officer, who said he was acting on a Health Canada request to do a “quarantine enforcement visit.” Their quarantine ended five days ago. PHOTO BY HANDOUT
Michael MacKenzie, executive director of the Canadian Snowbirds Association, said he had heard similar complaints from others migrating back from Florida this spring.

“The frustration is that unvaccinated and fully vaccinated travellers are being treated the same way,” MacKenzie said. “These people are making Canada safer by coming back fully vaccinated.”

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He said Canadian policy on the issue seemed more influenced by politics than science.

In the United States, fully vaccinated travellers no longer have to quarantine or self-isolate when they return to the country, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

A spokeswoman for the Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday that all travellers entering this country were subject to “compliance verification activities,” including phone calls and visits from screening officers, regardless of whether or not they’ve been fully vaccinated.

The unannounced visits can occur at any point during the 14-day quarantine period.

“Until there is concrete evidence that vaccination can prevent transmission of COVID-19, everyone, including vaccinated travellers, must follow public health measures and the mandatory quarantine and testing requirements,” Tammy Jarbeau said.

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The public health agency reaches more than 6,500 travellers by phone and visits more than 3,000 returned travellers each day, she said. The vast majority of travellers – 95 per cent of them – are following the quarantine requirements, Jarbeau said.

Earlier this week, a federal advisory panel on COVID-19 testing and screening recommended that fully vaccinated travellers be tested on arrival in Canada, but not forced to quarantine unless they test positive.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said the government will consider the panel’s recommendations, but remain prudent in its approach.

Hartwick said the expert panel’s new recommendations made sense.

Jackie Larouche Hartwick and Terry Hartwick of Smiths Falls were fully vaccinated in Florida in January and February.
Jackie Larouche Hartwick and Terry Hartwick of Smiths Falls were fully vaccinated in Florida in January and February. PHOTO BY TONY CALDWELL /Postmedia
Hartwick and his wife own a second home in Bonita Springs and flew to southwest Florida in November; they received their first vaccine on Jan. 4 and their second one a month later. Anyone with a Florida address could be vaccinated when the program first rolled out in January.

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Florida has experienced more deaths from COVID-19 than Canada. The state of 21.5 million people has seen more than 36,000 die from the virus, while Canada, with a population of 37.5 million, has had 25,411 COVID-19 deaths.

Like many returning snowbirds, the Hartwicks flew to a border airport, Syracuse. They arranged to cross the border by land on May 10 so as to avoid the need to quarantine in a hotel.

Both Hartwick and his wife have vaccination cards, but the Canadian customs agent was not interested in them. “He said they didn’t mean anything,” Hartwick said.

Their quarantine ended May 24.

Hartwick has registered his vaccinations with his family doctor, but there’s no way yet to register them with the Ontario government. Quebec has made it possible for snowbirds to register their vaccinations.

MacKenzie noted that most provincial restart plans were tied to vaccination rates, yet hundreds of thousands of Canadians vaccinated in the U.S. were not being counted.

“That’s bad for everybody,” he said.